For most of us, our memories are the most precious thing in the world—an incredible collection of experiences that have shaped us into the people we are today. But what happens when those memories are gone?
I’ve experienced this personally with friends and family members. I’ve watched with my own eyes as someone I loved slowly lost themselves. Their personality changed. Their memory faded, and they forgot key moments from their lives. They even forgot, eventually, the names and faces of those closest to them—myself included. This is Alzheimer’s.
In the United States, Alzheimer’s impacts one in 10 people over the age of 65—more than 5 million Americans are living with it now. And not only is it the sixth-leading cause of death nationwide, few other diseases take their toll in the same way. The slow decline of a loved one is difficult to watch and often deeply impacts the rhythms and mental health of those who care about them.
Unlike other diseases, Alzheimer’s doesn’t just attack your body, it attacks you. Your mind, your memories, your personality—it attacks the essence of who you are. Brain health is one of the biggest issues our seniors face today. And with an aging population of boomers, we’ve only just begun to see the swell of people impacted by the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s—physicians can only offer advice to help manage an inevitable outcome—but many in the healthcare sector envision a future where, through early detection, we can slow and ultimately stop the disease. In today’s practice, Alzheimer’s can be detected by leveraging biomarkers that measure changes in the brain’s size and function. The most common biomarkers are found using medical imaging modalities and cerebral spinal fluid tests—procedures that are expensive and invasive. To increase our ability to identify Alzheimer’s disease early, there needs to be more affordable and accessible biomarkers available to us.
Quest Advanced™ Neurology already offers one of the industry’s few blood-based biomarkers for screening. And we’re committed to continuing to invest in the necessary research and development to improve the sensitivity and specificity of these blood-based assays as a way of increasing their use for early detection. We are working toward a future where Alzheimer’s detection can come standard with an annual exam. And once we’re able to detect the disease early enough, patients will be informed and empowered like never before, allowing them to create a personalized care pathway that will help stop the progression of the disease, protecting their mind, their memories, and their identity.
This is not a future we endeavor alone—it requires the entire ecosystem. Alongside leading pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations, researchers, and universities, Quest Advanced™ Neurology’s work in the Alzheimer’s and dementia space is leading to new breakthroughs. Breakthroughs that will help improve early and definitive detection, while helping us monitor disease progression and therapeutic efficacy.
As someone who’s been so deeply impacted by the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, it’s more than a strategic business imperative, it’s a personal quest. Not just for me, but for all my Quest Diagnostics colleagues. This November, during National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, we remember the millions of Americans—past and present—impacted by Alzheimer’s. And while we work day in and day out toward a brighter future, we know that behind every test result—behind every negative or positive—there is a person.
With our research partners, leading health organizations, and dedicated staff by our side, we will overcome Alzheimer’s together.
I invite you to join us and find out more at QuestForTheCure.com.
*Stats from Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org)